Home > Bible Study, Devotional, James Devotional, Wisdom > James – Wednesday, March 25

James – Wednesday, March 25

wisdomJAMES 3:3-12

When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.

The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell. All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.

Here, the tongue is compared to the bits that horses wear, the rudders that turn huge ships at sea, and the small spark that begins a roaring forest fire. A very small thing can create a huge impact.

The tongue is a world of evil, and is set on fire by hell. Poison proceeds from our tongues. Even for the true believer, we have the capacity to bless God with our tongues and then turn around and curse men. We see this in horrible situations like church splits. The tongues of men cause the destruction of entire churches.

The bottom line is this: no one can tame this unruly beast called the tongue. No human can do it, but the Lord has plenty of power for the task. Like a great horseman working with wild stallions, the Lord works in us—by His Spirit—so that we will use our tongues to be a blessing to Him and to others.

Daily Devotional Book • James Application Questions

1. Everyone has horrible personal memories of stupid or very regretful things they’ve said at one time or another. We all stumble in many ways, remember? Be sure to apply the blood of Jesus to any past sins in this area, by faith.

2. Take the time right now to confess any unconfessed sin regarding your speech. If you’ve offended someone specifically, make a point to apologize to him/her as soon as possible (Matthew 5:23-24).

3. Ask the Lord to fill you with His Holy Spirit again today (Ephesians 5:18-21; Galatians 5:16-23). Tonight, make notes on your progress by thinking about your conversations throughout the day. Then start all over again tomorrow!

  1. Jane
    March 26, 2009 at 10:14 am

    Can someone shed some further light? The scripture (James 3:3-12) seems to clearly state that a salt spring can NOT produce fresh water; a fig tree can NOT bear olives; a grapevine can NOT bear figs; both fresh water and salt water can NOT flow from the same spring. It sounds absolute. That has always made me think that it then follows that a “true believer” can NOT speak both blessings and curses. Therefore, if a professing believer DOES speak curses, he can not be a genuine believer. Does that make sense? Yet, Pastor Holdridge, you stated, “Even for the true believer, we have the capacity to bless God with our tongues and then turn around and curse men”. I’ve always struggled with this passage! Thank you for any insight.

  2. Peggy
    March 26, 2009 at 11:32 am

    I thank and praise God for His marvelous ways…I, too, directly echo Jane’s query(ies) and I have read that passage in various translations, prayed, meditated upon it, and I’m waiting on the Lord’s wisdom here…I just “don’t get it”, either, and prayerfully ask for some further counsel here, many thanks and blessing upon blessing to all.

  3. March 28, 2009 at 9:25 am


    James is using metaphorical language to indicate what should not be. In other words, one’s speech should be consistent, as are salt springs, fig trees, and grapevines. These examples provide great illustrations for us concerning how things ought to be.

    The new nature we’ve received from Christ always responds properly to the Spirit’s promptings in these and all other areas.

    However, we also possess what the Bible calls “the flesh.” Romans 7:14-25 describes this inner conflict of flesh and spirit, as does Galatians 5:16-24.

    Having said that, if the repeated and unrepentant behavior and attitude of a person is consistent with a sinful lifestyle, and not an aberration, then we have cause to question whether the person is a true believer. 1 John 2:3-5 teaches that idea.

    Hope that helps.


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